When Charles Sturt University teaching graduate Mr Ed Smith started his first job at Narromine Public School, he had a full-circle moment.
The newly-qualified teacher would be seeking guidance from the same principal that shaped his formative years when he attended Tottenham Central School.
Going from a primary school student to a teacher under the same principal’s leadership was ‘quite surreal’ for Ed (pictured).
“It honestly felt so surreal that after four years of university, I was teaching my own class,” Ed said.
“Especially when I am now working with the principal that was my principal in primary school.
“I have been so lucky to work with my principal and have her share her experience and knowledge with me. It's not every day you get this opportunity, and I am so grateful.”
The first few weeks working with his long-time mentor and new colleagues and students were a 'whirlwind of emotions' for Ed.
“In the beginning, I was excited and nervous, and each day was something different,” he said.
“The most challenging moments were in the first few weeks, where I had to learn the routine of the school and then teach it to my class.
“The moment that I realised that I made right decision to be a teacher was after my first week of teaching.
“Two students came up to me and told me that they were 'so excited for this year' because I was their teacher.”
Although Ed has faced a number of the usual first-year teacher challenges, especially in his first few weeks, he never expected he would be teaching during a pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made the task of settling into the profession a unique challenge for this year’s graduate teachers, but Ed is focusing on the positives of that challenge.
“I never thought in my first year of teaching that I would be teaching through a pandemic,” Ed said.
“Teaching through COVID-19 is an interesting time, and it has given me the opportunity to enhance various skills.
“It allowed me to work closely with my mentor and other staff members to ensure we were creating a quality, blended learning experience for our students.”
Working with others, tackling challenges, and being an active member in his communities is something Ed has always been drawn towards.
While he was a student at Charles Sturt, he became a STRIVE student leadership program graduate, was head resident at the John Oxley Village student residences on campus, was a casual with the student leadership team, and helped organise the 2019 student leadership conference.
It is the same tight-knit sense of community, where support is always offered when it is needed, that Ed says is the best part of teaching in a regional town.
“The community in Narromine make it such a great place to teach,” he said.
“Everyone is welcoming and willing to help you out. It is great knowing that I have moved to a town where you feel welcome.”
Ed’s students are also his favourite part of the job, and are what he says make teaching really worthwhile.
“My favourite part of the day is the morning,” he said.
“I love seeing how happy they are when they come in the classroom and hearing the stories they want to share with you. The smiles on their faces honestly light up the room and make it such a positive learning environment.
“Seeing the looks on the students' faces when they understand a concept or read an unfamiliar word correctly makes all the hard work and effort you put in worth it.”
Although Ed is now well on the way to carving out his teaching career, he is still very connected with the Charles Sturt community he first started his teaching journey with.
“I am still connected with my Charles Sturt peers,” he said.
“I still regularly contact other Charles Sturt University beginning teachers, and we are able to share our experiences and offer support when needed.
“My lecturers were so supportive and encouraging and at our graduation ceremony, they told everyone to contact them if we ever needed anything thing.
“This made me feel like they will always be there to support me.”